Friday, July 10, 2015

Hatred on the Internet

Invariably, someone will feel they need to argue, so I'm going to close comments on this post. The fact I feel the need to close comments says how bad the problem has become.

The hate is strong in the world these days. It's not just things like the burning of African-American churches across the U.S. or slut shaming of underage rape victims or harassment of members of the LGBT community. It's gotten to the point I don't read comments on my favorite sites. It's gotten to the point I've blocked several friends on FB. It's gotten to the point I don't even get on Twitter anymore.

There is very little compassion or empathy on the internet. There's been several studies including one published in Psychology Today. And if you look at the comments, well, the trolls kind of proved the author's point.

There's irony inherent in a system that can bring people together from around the world can also be used to divide us. People like Dylann Roof allegedly not only told friends about his intentions to kill blacks, but proclaimed his intentions on his Facebook page and his own website. What makes his threats valid and another person's nothing more than blowing off steam online, other than the fact Dylann allegedly carried out his plan?

I think the fact we don't know which is which online makes the problem more troubling. A friend shared a post online about rape vs. consent only to have a male she considered a friend PM her with a sexist joke. When she called him on it, he didn't apologize. Instead, he doubled-down, claimed she was being too sensitive, women like being sexually harassed if the harassee is good-looking, etc.

So how do we as a multi-cultural world deal with someone else's anger? How do we help these people to change their behavior into something positive?

The problem is we can't. Sometimes the beliefs are so hardcore, so ingrained, that to give these people an alternative sends them into an emotional tailspin.

Then there are the trolls who enjoy inflicting pain.

So how do you respond when you're not sure which party you're dealing with? I wish I had the answer to that.

If you respond to a troll, you're only helping him jack off. If you allow the hatred to permeate without a response, then folks on the edge start to think this behavior is acceptable.

The best thing that can happen is that the owner of the site monitors comments. That the owner explicitly states the comment policy. By having a website open to public comment, we are responsible for the level of discourse.

I've had people get mad about some of the things I post here. I've had people get mad when I've called them out for some of the things they've said in comments. I've had people get pissed because I deleted their comment. So be it.

The comment policy here is that you need to be civil, and yes, since WWW is under my control, then my judgment on what is civil rules.

This isn't a First Amendment issue. This is what my parents and grandparents called "using your company manners." If you can't behave in any public venue, maybe you shouldn't venture into that space.